Truth is simple, but understanding is complex. The tremendous, essential realities lay in front of our eyes at every moment. But our eyes are shut, and our heads are twisted away. We live on the surface, perceiving reflections and images, reacting to events, striving to make sense. The simple and obvious reality lies outside of us and inside of us, but it is elusive. As we advance, it retreats. Our perception itself distorts what we see. The tools we have at our disposal are blunt.
Understanding is a simple, universal, and under-utilized capacity,
which we all have. There is no continuity between ignorance and understanding.
Ignorance is the domination of a single truth, which subjugates all
others. It holds tight to its minimal and narrow conceptions. Understanding
liberates from bondage to appearances. It breaks shells, reveals secrets,
creates possibilities. A single inspiration is a resolution of an enigma,
and knits together the torn fabric of our experience.
Raise up the object of understanding, viewing it from every perspective. Turn to the parts that are unclear or uncomfortable, not just those that are intriguing or satisfying. What are the causes and effects, the origins and purposes? What is its place in the world: in nature, politics, and morality? What are the secret hopes and intentions?
At the periphery are conditional and ephemeral qualities, but every entity has a core truth, which animates and sustains it. See the circumstances, but then see through them, to the fundamental and universal truths at the center.
Understanding is not primarily an intellectual endeavor. It is a transformative process, in which one reaches towards, embraces, and, and least for a moment, becomes the alien being. The rigidity of narrow formulations softens, and dissolves. The schismatic division between subjects is healed.
If and when understanding is achieved, it is still only one expression of a broader human movement toward healing, connection, and unity. Understanding, acting, creating, relation, and being: all that we do, and all that we can do, is equally necessary for true reconciliation. While we each have a predilection to focus in one field, every function is necessary for the full development of every other. Understanding is a necessary but insufficient condition for depth, love, and happiness. Bringing understanding to action, in the real world of relationship, art, and society, is a nobler task; and without this, even the magical process of understanding is barren.
A cup of coffee lies on the table, steaming, aromatic,
fixed there at one place and time. Drink it and enjoy it, if you can.
It’s not just what you want, and it’s not just what it seems.